AIDS: 20 Years
of the Same Old Thing?
Green and Lavendar
Amanda Milan: "We Still Have Nothing To Lose"
Foul Play At Fairmont
Latest Actions and Activities About Palestine
Mumia Caught in Mob Crossfire?
Live from the Stop FTAA Demos
Navy Bombs Vieques People Resist
The Mocha Column
Youth on Fire for Environmental Justice
Hospital Workers Strike Back
Youth Protest Police Brutality
AIDS: 20 Years of the Same Old Thing?
If you have been anywhere near a TV or a newspaper, then you've heard this June is the 20th anniversary of AIDS. It has been 2 decades since the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) issued its first report on five gay men from Los Angeles with Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia, an infection seen nearly exclusively in people with damaged immune systems.
It seems as if everyone is having some kind of commemoration. Some people felt there should be no observance just more hard work to end the epidemic (obviously no one listened to them). The media has focused a lot of attention on the advances in medication/ treatment, which have been incredible. Some of our friends (and some of us) wouldn't be alive with out them. Much of the progress in treating the disease and the people who have it came from queer activists. This article was going to be called "20 Years of Queer Resistance", but after several attempts I just couldnt do it.
We are not in a time of resistance. Many people might argue we are in a time of progress. After all, the funerals for people we know have virtually come to a halt. In the legion of time lines published in the papers and on the web, the illness is tracked from mysterious fatal disease, to GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), to AIDS & ARC (AIDS Related Complex), to AIDS and HIV+ (with the discovery of the virus and a test to recognize the anti body), to where the media and pharmaceutical companies claim we are today a chronic manageable disease. However, one thing we have learned (or should have) is that AIDS and other epidemics are not simply germs to be controlled but a set of social conditions that turn a microbe into a plague.
If we do not change the conditions that make an epidemic, we have no chance of stopping it. There was queer resistance to the homophobia that allowed HIV to become firmly entrenched on this continent. It came in the form of marches, rallies, and civil disobedience. There were different groups in the AIDS movement. Now there are even more groups but they function as organizations and not a movement.
In the past Stop AIDS Now Or Else (SANOE) blocked the Golden Gate Bridge and ACT UP/New York shut down the stock exchange. To recognize the 20th Anniversary, the Stop AIDS Project sent out an announcement that they would draw chalk outlines on the sidewalks in the Castro to represent the bodies of people who died of AIDS. They also informed people that earlier in the epidemic this was called "a die in" (I guess some people were to young to know about it). What they failed to say was that these outlines used to drawn in the street while blocking traffic. The message being that if this society doesnt stop AIDS that we will stop this society. The ironically named Stop AIDS Project is sending the message that they will remind us about AIDS. I dont think that people in the Midwest have forgotten about AIDS let alone the queers standing on the corner of 18th & Castro.
The difference between remembering AIDS and doing something about it are two different things; this applies to a young sissy who knows that he should use a condom but doesnt and to a society that in survey after survey says it needs health care reform but doesnt demand it.
The failure of all this 20th anniversary hype to understand the importance of queer rebellion is more than just a failure to understand our history but is part of a continuing pattern of assumptions, biases and agendas that undermine the health and happiness of queers, people of color, women, children and everyone else who is marginalized in this world. Other movements have started out radical.
The Civil Rights movement, Feminism, and the LGBT movement started out with their goals to stop the problem (whether it be racism, sexism or homophobia) but over time grass roots movements became hierarchical institutions. The organizations steered away from what I call the "Or Else" approach. The bus boycotts that said if you keep putting us in the back of the bus, then there will be no bus, became public service announcements. Take Back the Night rallies by women morphed into spokespersons talking for women. The Gay Liberation Front is replaced by the Human Rights Campaign (no gay words there) who a few years ago endorsed republikan Al Damoto for senate. In the AIDS "movement", civil disobedience is replaced by the first openly gay AIDS Czar a log cabin gay republican who was a "pro-life" anti-woman fundraiser. Is this progress?
Not that things were ever perfect. ACT UP (as a movement and as separate chapters) lived up to its name with rowdy demonstrations but did not live up to its acronym. The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power never quite became a coalition. Women and people of color made contributions but werent made to feel welcome. Gay White Men out numbered everyone else combined. The same racism and sexism (which like homophobia) which kept amerika from dealing with AIDS kept ACT UP from reaching the next level. ACT UP never grew beyond its queer white base and was unable to form a united resistance to the conditions that fuel the pandemic into its third decade.
When I say, "20 years of the same old thing". I am not saying that AIDS hasnt changed. I am saying that it has changed in the same old ways as other movements. A hierarchical society rewards hierarchy, which encourages the slow demise of truly independent grass-roots groups. Before they die, community groups raise a ruckus which often brings resources from the government. Money becomes paid staff. The paid staff becomes the clearing house for information and resources. To get the information/service a community member must become a client. The client is told what their problem is and how to deal with it.
People sitting in waiting rooms wont stop AIDS. However people seem far more content to wait these days. Complacency has really swept the queer community. There is concern about AIDS, but where is the outrage? Great groups like ACT UP/Philadelphia make demands and demonstrations about AIDS in Africa. However, there are far more groups like the STOP AIDS Project that care enough to "die in" on the sidewalk, but arent quite mad enough to stop traffic.
I dont want to pick on one group. While researching this article I noted the attitude of anti-AIDS campaigns according to year. With women & HIV it was most striking. In the late 1980's and early 1990's there was a long campaign centered around the theme "Women Dont Get AIDS, They Just Die From It". This referred to the CDCs refusal to include women specific symptoms in the surveillance definition of AIDS which resulted in women with HIV being undercounted and not properly diagnosed. The most common phrase I found for the mid 1990's was "Women Get AIDS, Too" which is less in your face and has a pathetic dont forget about me quality. Most recent articles listed on the net were updates and not visibly part of any overall strategy to address the needs of HIV+ women.
Anger cant be manufactured and people shouldnt fake it. Some questions do come to mind. When gay men were first dying, many middle class heterosexuals werent angry. They proclaimed it "Gawds punishment". If the community isnt angry because our friends have stopped dying in large numbers, while Africans are still dying; are we different from yesteryears breeders? If the system doesnt work, does working in the system work?
AIDS is now being called a resurgent epidemic because of the rise in new infections of gay young men. The articles (which appeared nationally) about this phenomena actually mention issues like homophobia and racism being detrimental to young gay mens self esteem. Many young gay men either lack the confidence to demand a condom or buy into the "chronic manageable illness" crap promoted by the drug companies. However, people are talking about ways to boost young gay mens self esteem instead of giving them a movement that opposes racism, homophobia and looksism. The opportunity to express your needs and right to have them met build self esteem. A case worker cant do everything for you. Shouldnt a resurgence of AIDS bring a resurgence of AIDS activism? Lets just get it right this time.
Bob Basker, a long time left gay activist, died this April at the age of 82.
He was born in East Harlem, New York in 1918 as Solomon. A life-long socialist, he joined the Student Peace Movement in 1935. During that period he was one of a few white members of a Black Gay and Lesbian social group in Harlem, called "JUGGS" (Just us Guys and Gals). Although he was a member of the Young Commmunist League in the 30's, he did not join the Communist Party because their constitution disqualified homosexuals from membership. Like many leftists, he enlisted in the army after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, and it was then that he changed his name to Bob. He was stationed in New York and then in England, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He told historian Keith Vacha, "During the years that I was with my army unit, of the four hundred men in it I must have had sex with a hundred of them. But I never developed a reputation of being gay."
Bob remained active in progressive politics throughout the McCarthy era, supporting black-listed friends and performers including Paul Robeson, Scott Neering and Henry Noyes. He and his wife supported Chicago families who were victims of the Smith Act (which outlawed members of the Communist Party. He hosted Russian dancers during their Chicago tour, held fundraisers for Helen Sobell, and supported racial integration. He received bomb threats at his Skokie Illinois home in 1961, because of his support for open housing.
In 1963 he was one of the founders of Chicago Mattachine, where he used the alias Bob Sloane. Unlike much of the pre-Stonewall homophile movement, this group proclaimed itself as part of the larger civil rights movement. In 1964, after a police sweep, (which Bob referred to as the "Harvest of Fruits"), the group was able to force the Chicago Police Department to officially agree to stop entrapping and harassing gay men.
He was active throughout the 60s in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and in the Civil Rights Movement.
In the mid-sixties, Basker moved to Miami, and then to Cuba, where his ex-wife and children were living. He taught English as a second language at the John Reed School of Languages. Jesse Monteagudo reports him as saying, "I loved living in Cuba and was popular with both revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries. The School would retire to the countryside for producto voluntario (voluntary labor). But I couldnt cut cane because of my heart condition. So I worked in the Capitolio proof-reading and correcting from Spanish to English the pamphlets sent to Expo 67 in Montreal."
"In any case, when the School came back from producto voluntario, I found out that two teachers were dismissed for being homosexual. When I heard about it I was enraged and felt I had to do something about it. So I gathered together several of the teachers and went down to our teachers union and said, look, we are paying 20 centavos a month in our union book and we are members and we heard that these teachers were fired without due process. And as union members they should have a trial or some kind of process before they are fired. And the teachers trade union told us that they cant do anything about it. And I pounded on the table and insisted they must do something about it."
"Two weeks later, the two women were reinstated, again without any due process. Up until then, I did not plan on leaving Cuba but then I figured that they would consider me a conflictivo (troublemaker). And I thought, well, Ill plan on leaving the country. So it took me a couple of months to get the documentation and I arranged for a trip back to Canada via a Russian ship.
"Two days before my departure, I got a wire from the Ministry of Education transferring me from the School I was teaching, where I was an honored teacher, to a sort of junior high school in a small town several hours bus ride outside of Havana. So the system was finally catching up with me."
In 1971, Bob was one of the founders of Miamis Gay Activist Alliance, which overturned local laws against cross-dressing and drag shows. He helped establish a place for homeless youth through the Metropolitan Community Church. In 1973, he was one of the founders of the Alliance for Individual Rights, which helped to establish the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights. This group lobbied to amend the discrimination ordinance to add the words "affectional and sexual preference." The Dade County commission voted unanimously for the change in its first reading. But six weeks later at the second reading, Anita Bryant, Phyllis Schafly and a lot of other right-wingers filled the hearing room. The Commission passed it five to three, but then Anita Bryant led a successful campaign for its reapeal.
In 1978, after an internal battle in DCCHR, Bob decided to move to San Francisco. He became involved with the Alice B. Toklas, Harvey Milk and Stonewall Gay Democratic Clubs. In 1983 he was one of the founders of the openly gay Alexander Hamilton Post #448 of the American Legion.
Bob was a member of the National Organization for Women, and was on the board of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP. He was on the Board of the San Francisco In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority. It would be impossible to list here all of the groups and movements that he was involved with. Bob had three children, one of whom is Melinda Basker, a lesbian who has been active in various groups in the Bay Area.
Bob was a long-time friend of LAGAI. He attended many of our events, always encouraging us to be as out and as radical as we could be. His life, as a grassroots revolutionary gay activist is an inspiration to us. We will miss him.
GREEN AND LAVENDER
by Lisa B.
A great color scheme or a lesbian environmentalist? Could be both I suppose although my taste runs more towards blue and white, with highlights of basic black. Now that weve gotten decorating out of the way, on to the environment! Oops, that sounds like someones mounting the planet . . . not a bad metaphor for the bush/cheney strategy. From sea to shining sea takes on a new meaning these days.
Oh dutiful election czars who fulfill GOP dreams.
From oil fields in the Alaskan wilderness to bombing the island of Vieques.
From blanketing the Columbia with herbicides to nuclear power phase two.
From gutting the endangered species act to arsenic tainted water on tap.
(In true folk song tradition there are too many syllables in most of the phrases, and we all know that both Columbia and Vieques fared no better under clinton, but it still rings true.)
The most surreal environmental item Ive seen lately revisits the concept of the giant fan. Some of you may remember a proposal about 20 years ago to put giant fans in the mountain passes near los angeles to blow the smog out of the city and into the desert. (No, I actually dont make this stuff up!) Well the giant fan is back as part of the supplement to the draft environmental impact statement (DOE /EIS-0250D-S) for the high-level radioactive waste dump proposed for Yucca Mountain! The basic plan is to truck and rail all the high level nuclear waste rods from all the nuclear power plants in the country to the nevada desert and stick it in a big hole in the mountain and try to isolate it for up to 10,000 years. Since the rods are very hot (temperature) the general wisdom has been that its important to keep them cool, hence the cooling ponds next to all the nuclear reactors for spent fuel rods. The first Yucca Mountain proposal called for flooding the big hole in the mountain with water. But the state of nevada pointed out to the feds that the feds didnt have rights to enough water for this plan and the state refused to let the feds pump the desert dry and contaminate the last of the fresh water for miles. So the feds went back to the drawing board and came up with the new "higher-temperature repository operating mode" which basically entails putting the waste closer together, creating even higher temperatures (and greater risk of accident) and then using giant fans to keep the temperature within "acceptable ranges." The giant fans will push the air through the dump at rate of 15 cubic meters (530 cubic feet) per second. The EIS doesnt even bother to discuss the potential environmental impacts of blasting this much hot air out over the desert, I guess the folks in d.c. assume every one else is immune to the effects of hot air by now. . . . Yucca Mountain is sacred to the Western Shoshone who still claim title to the land, yet another good reason to oppose this insane plan.
Now for the good news, the dot com industrys sudden set backs (I dont think its really a demise although "dot com demise" certainly has a nice lilt to it) means Cisco Systems is scaling back its plans to build lots of new office "campuses," but unfortunately they are still set on destroying Coyote Valley. (Ok! maybe not "good news" but less than horrible news?)
Back in California, protesters have been working hard to stop maxxam from logging old growth douglas fir stands in the Mattole River basin. Company employees have attacked protesters in the trees while local law enforcement does nothing. And the US Army is trying to expand its tank training base at Fort Irwin into two wilderness study areas. The proposed tank training will destroying the local populations of Lane Mountain milkvetch, desert tortoise and seasonal desert bighorn sheep habitat and a traditional gathering site for the Chemehuevi tribe.
Amanda Milan: "We Still Have Nothing To Lose"
On June 21, 2000, Amanda Milan, a 25 year old black transsexual woman, was stabbed to death on West 42nd St. and 8th Avenue in New York City. According to witnesses, the attacker yelled phrases including "Youre a man," and "I know thats a dick you have in between your legs." Amanda shouted back at him. When Amanda turned to leave and walked towards a fleet of cabs, another man handed her attacker a knife. As she was opening the door to the cab, the man ran up to her from behind and slashed her throat. It severed her jugular vein. Again, according to witnesses, although a few bystanders tried to help, several of the cab drivers cheered and applauded as she bled to death. She died on the way to St. Vincents Hospital.
Three men were eventually arrested and charged in her death. Various motions regarding the consolidation of the cases has delayed the trial. The case was not filed in as a hate crime, because New Yorks hate crime law does not apply to crimes against transgender people.
The recently re-formed Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, has been pushing queer and gay organizations to respond to this case. Pointing to the attention which was given to the murder of Matthew Shepherd, they asked the Human Rights Campaign to participate in a commemoration of Amanda and to provide support to publicize the case. On Feb. 23, the HRC declined, saying "Unfortunately HRC is unable to sponsor or offer financial support to this current effort. HRCs resources are being strategically spent on legislative efforts, including preparing for reintroduction of the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act that would give federal authorities jurisdiction over hate crimes motivated by "real or perceived gender." We are also supporting the work of state and local organizations working on a number of state bills on civil rights, hate crimes and family issues, including several which are transgender-inclusive."
Silvia Rivera, one of the original founders of STAR in 1971, responded, "The HRC has no backbone when it comes to backing our community when we are standing up for ourselves. We will never tolerate the hatred that other communities direct toward us.
"The HRC bears responsibility for forgetting the fact that we have lives, feelings and blood just like every other human being. Representatives of HRC, after the Amanda Milan memorial, personally apologized to Sylvia Rivera for their ignorance of the extent of the hatred that we face and the danger we live with day after day, day in and day out."
Recalling that it was street transvestites who led the Stonewall rebellion, Rivera added "Your people had no problem in 1969 from using the anger of our people who gave their all, who had nothing to lose, who brought you out of the closets you would still be in if it were not for us. We still have nothing to lose, and we are still giving our all."
Foul Play At Fairmont
Recently I was given my ten year service award in a formal ceremony of several hundred captive employees, complete with excruciating pomp and circumstance, as only the county can arrange. I was instructed that I must attend by one of my various supervisors. You can only imagine my surprise and horror when in my sneakers and my ever-so lesbian vest my eyes cast towards the floor, I looked up to receive my obligatory coffee mug in to the cold disingenuous eyes of THE EVIL DAVE KEARS. To make matters far worse I was then forced to take a ceremonial photograph with my long time nemesis, well known to each other from opposing sides of the board of stupervisors chambers. He has heard every one of my save the county hospital speeches over the years. It was some kind of pinnacle of absurdity in my years as a county employee.
As readers may remember the evil dave kears is the one man behind the endless attempts by the Alameda county board of supervisors to under-fund, cut services, and privatize the medical center comprising Highland hospital, Fairmont hospital, John George and the five freestanding out-patient clinics. He, as the director of the alameda county health services agency, has convinced the board of supes that the county should be a purchaser of health care rather than provide actual health services, hence the constant effort to privatize or contract out services. He also heads the alameda alliance, the organization that has privatized medi-cal in this county. This organization has systematically funneled the only patients with a payor source out of the county system to the private hospitals. Alameda alliance has made so much money in its four years of existence that it is giving millions away. The community has long wondered how the evil dave kears can objectively run the county health care agency and the alameda alliance. Those of us fighting to preserve a full service county hospital to care for the 360,000 uninsured people in alameda think this is a serious conflict of interest.
The newest and most egregious attack in years on the hospital comes with an attempt to close the neurorespiratory unit at Fairmont hospital in San Leandro. This 20 bed unit operated for decades cares for people who are ventilator dependent for 12 hours a day or more, people with permanent tracheotomy tubes and other medically fragile people who could not be placed in acute or subacute settings. Such people have head trauma, respiratory failure, motor vehicle accidents, chronic neurological illness like multiple sclerosis or ALS disease. This unit until recently was reimbursed as an acute unit. This meant that the N/R patients received a high level of nursing care for their chronically acute conditions. About six months ago the state stopped paying the acute rate and this group of vulnerable patients that the board of stupervisors is mandated by law to protect, has become a political football. The medical center discovered they would lose three million dollars a year and immediately tried to get these patients anywhere else as quickly as possible, all legal and ethical commitments out the door.
Towards this nefarious end several months ago the medical center announced that they had found a perfectly delightful nursing home in the immediate San Leandro neighborhood. Seaton brags poor staffing levels, few licensed staff, nonunion workers badly underpaid and overworked. This nursing home agreed to take the ventilator patients en mass, of course charging the county a greatly discounted rate. A community campaign of sorts was started by CANHR California Advocates For Nursing Home Reform and Vote Health with half -hearted help from the SEIU Locals 250 and 616. CANHR has established personal contact with the patients and their families on the unit. CANHR engaged a lawyer versed in nursing home issues to represent the patients. Some of the patients have lived on this unit for many years. Studies have shown that such patients could die simply by being transferred - "transfer shock". Pat McGinnis the executive director of CANHR, reported that in her vast experience with nursing homes, the care provided on the N/R unit at Fairmont is the best she has ever seen.
In true PUSH (People United to Save Health care ) style some of us started a very enthusiastic post card campaign to the board of stupervisors and hospital authority board. All the staff at Fairmont signed in droves, not to mention any one who heard about this health care atrocity. Some people who sent postcards got anxious letters from Alice Lai-Bitker, newly elected stupervisor, blaming the state for all these troubles. CANHR prepared their law suits and organized a vocal rally at the admin building at Fairmont. Several local papers did excellent articles highlighting the personal stories of some of the patients. Vote Health went into a lobbying frenzy (the struggle is fought on many fronts) Momentum gathered. Suddenly an announcement came from the medical center that they were not going to close the N/R unit, because surprise, surprise, seaton the nursing home that the medical center had assured all to be a lovely place, had just been cited for medicare fraud. We cautiously celebrated a victory and the local committee of Vote Health went on to fighting with the county for next years medical center budget to include money for improving the specialty clinics at Highland ( it takes six months to get an opthomology appointment for an AIDS patient with suspected CMV retinitis) and to get a new MRI machine (the old one has a defunct magnet).
Monday of this last week I called Hazel who works on one of the units. Shes family with a good political head on her shoulders, so I especially trust her information and insight into the situation at Fairmont. She said, " you know Tory they are going to close the N/R unit." The parents of one patient signed a release for the patient to go to seaton. A week later he had bedsores and the family wanted to bring him back, but Fairmont said absolutely not. Hazel reported that another bed had been found for a patient in a subacute part of Alameda Hospital. She felt that in spite of what was being publicly said by administration, the hospital is trying to move the patients, by pressuring the families and the patients to sign voluntarily to move. Pat McGinnis confirmed this story and said that the supervising social worker at Fairmont was indeed pressuring people to move, but that each patient was required by law to have a hearing and thirty days notice. Pat felt that with the CANHR lawyer they would have a good chance of winning against the medical center. Conversely, Vote Health and Local 616 insisted that in various recent meetings the county supes and the medical center were discussing different ways to fund the unit . However by last Wednesday the devious and so deceptive medical center gathered all the Fairmont skilled employees together and announced that contrary to all previous statements, they were going to close the N/R unit. The patients would be placed as soon as possible and no new patients would be accepted.
This tragic health care issue is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost it demonstrates the pervasive idea in todays for-profit health care that people are dispensable, throw-away, dont count just because their care isnt profitable to someone. This attack on the neurorespiratory unit at Fairmont also is the beginning of closing or downsizing an important community institution. Fairmont is home to a number of specialty clinics, primary care, dentistry, HIV services, and a large walk-in same day appointment clinic. It also houses a 260 bed skilled nursing facility and a rehab unit. If one of the 360,000 uninsured people of alameda county has a stroke, Fairmont rehab provides excellent care. The county has also been talking about closing the SNF and the rehab unit because they are losing money. The demise of the N/R unit is just the first step in shutting down this community public hospital crucial for the Hayward, San Leandro, and East Oakland areas.
The county needs to be held accountable to the community. Money is never going to be made off of uninsured people. A commitment to funding health care is necessary. The county must change its priorities. Recently Youth Force Coalition took over the board of stupervisors in a loud powerful demo protesting the boards proposal to expand juvenile hall by 240 beds. Youth Force demanded alternatives to incarceration, community based programs to keep people out of juvenile hall. The county has traditionally funded the sheriffs department for more jails and policing not for programs or for health care.
We need to build a strong grass roots movement to force the board of stupervisrs to change their priorities. In the short term we need to prevent the closure of the neuro-respiratory unit.
Call the stupervisors and protest 510-272-6347.
Join the Vote Health local issues committee 510534-5006
Call Tory to create a direct action health care group 510-534-5006
There are no throw-away people!
HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism formed last month, as a way for our communities to participate in the growing campaign for Palestinian rights. The group, which has met twice, supports the principles of the divestment campaign which the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee announced last November.
Those principles include ending the exclusivist, racist nature of the israeli state, supporting the right of return for all Palestinians, and an immediate end to the occupation, and illegal settlement of the occupied territories. These demands recognize that prior to the creation of the israeli state in 1948 there was a campaign of terror which forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes. Holocaust survivor Israel Shahak has documented the destruction of thousands of Palestinian towns and villages prior to and after 1948. New refugees were created by the 1967 war, and subsequent demolitions. All Palestinians have a right, which was recognized by U.N. resolutions, to return home.
Some of our immediate plans include: participation in a joint delegation (with ADC and Jews for Divestment) to ask Rainbow Grocery to not stock Israeli products, and marching in the LGBT Parade with our new QUIT! banner. We are also discussing organizing a queer action brigade to Palestine. For information call LAGAI at 510-434-1308.
Students Up the Ante
In late April, the UC Berkeley Students for Divestment staged their most militant protest yet, occupying Wheeler Hall for nearly 7 hours. The demonstration was the third in a series of escalating creative actions, which included building a refugee camp in Sproul Plaza and blockading Sather Gate with a "checkpoint," to illustrate directly to students and faculty the harassment that Palestinians experience daily in trying to move about under occupation.
The group chained shut 10 of the 12 entrances to Wheeler, which was chosen for its central location and houses mostly classrooms. After a noon rally outside, which was much larger and more diverse than previous ones, attracting about 750 students, staff, and community supporters, about 50 people occupied the lobby of the building. They remained there, chanting, while the rally continued outside and others stood in the two open doorways, urging students and faculty to show solidarity with the Palestinian people by missing their afternoon classes. Some agreed to turn away, while others pushed through or were directed to an entrance around the back which police had unlocked. Emotions became very intense around 2:00 p.m., when large numbers of students began arriving for a chemistry midterm which was not cancelled. Organizers encouraged blockaders to make their presence "a deterrent" but not to physically obstruct people who wanted to get in, fearing that if people were not allowed into the building, police would arrested all the demonstrators including some who could not risk it.
At about 7:00 p.m., 31 students and 4 community activists were arrested and charged with blocking a doorway. They were cited and released immediately, and the charges were later dropped.
Junity or Not Junity?
On the weekend of May 4-6, 180 Jewish activists gathered in Chicago for an organizing conference entitled, "Jewish Unity for a Just Peace," and quickly dubbed Junity, by its initiators. Participants came from all over the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Europe and Israel, with the largest contingent being from the Bay Area (Berkeley, surprise surprise, had more representation than all of Illinois). The conference was organized solely around the call for "Immediate withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem," and took no position on how many states there should be in Palestine, or on the Palestinian Right of Return. Encouragingly, about half the group seemed to favor a single secular state in Palestine (though I was the only one who consistently said "multiethnic" rather than "binational"), and a majority seemed to support the right of return.
It was a great opportunity for networking and several concrete campaigns were initiated. A direct action group met and agreed on a series of coordinated actions, the first of which were the June 8 vigils, initiated by israeli Women In Black. (It sounds like ours in San Francisco was the largest, drawing over 750 people to Montgomery and Market.) We are working on coordinated actions in September during the 10 days between Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), known as the "Days of Awe." We also committed to organizing actions, hopefully in coalition with Arab groups and other organizations, for the December 10 International Day for Human Rights.
We also had the opportunity to hear from two wonderful israeli speakers, Jeff Halper, who is director of the Committee Against Home Demolitions, and Rela Mizrali, who works with a feminist organization called New Profile, which is taking on issues from domestic violence to conscientious objection to the low status of israeli Arabs and Mizrachi (Arab) Jews. Unfortunately, we also spent much too much time trying to agree on a "call to action," which among other problems, wasnt really a call to action and was twice defeated by one or two votes. We agreed to work it out via e-mail, but though I get voluminous e-mails from the guy who has apparently, without a mandate from the conference attendees, constituted himself staff of the new organization Junity (which we did not agree to start), I have seen nothing about the call. (Of course, I dont read most of his e-mails¼ .)
Mumia Caught in Mob Crossfire?
In early March Mumia startled supporters by firing his longtime hardworking lawyers Leonard Weinglass and Daniel Williams. He said that Williams had not had permission to publish his book about the case, Executing Justice. Williams says the book was authorized.
On May 5, his new legal team, Elliott Lee Grossman and Marlene Kamish, released affidavits from Mumia, his brother William Cook, and a self-described hit man named Arnold Beverly, who admits to committing the murder in his affidavit. Beverlys affidavit says he and "another guy" were hired by the Philadelphia mafia to kill officer Daniel Faulkner "because he interfered with the graft and payoffs" to police for gambling and prostitution operations. Beverly says he shot Faulkner at close range, in the presence of other police officers. "I believed that since I was hired by the mob to shoot and kill Faulkner, any police officers on the scene would be there to help me."
Mumias brother, in his first public statement on the case, says he was discouraged from testifying by his own and Mumias lawyers, including Weinglass. Mumia, who has also never before given an account of the events that led to his death sentence, also says that Weinglass did not want him to testify. Williams admits that he and Weinglass had the Beverly affidavit in their file, and says they decided not to use it. Weinglass has made no comment.
It is unclear why Beverly is willing to confess to a murder which, theoretically at least, could land him on death row. It is similarly unclear why Weinglass, who aside from his reputation as a conscientious and committed lawyer, has put a huge amount of his own time and money into Mumias appeals, would do something which seems to be counter to Mumias interests, or wishes. Apparently both Mumia and Beverly have passed lie detector tests, which unfortunately are inadmissible in court.
We dont know where any of this will lead, and have no reason to think it will be held as grounds for overturning his conviction or death sentence, but we sure do hope so. Stay tuned as this gangster caper unfolds.
Live from the Stop FTAA Demos
by Liz Highleyman
Having heard that activists were being turned away from the Canadian border, I donned straight girl garb to pass through customs en route to Quebec City in April. Leaders of 34 American nations were gathering in the historic walled city for the Summit of the Americas. Their most controversial agenda item was the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement (FTAA), a deal that would increase corporate control over the region's economies -- a so-called "NAFTA on steroids."
Thursday, April 19 began calmly enough with a women's action that surrounded the "wall of shame" -- the 2-mile-long, 10-foot-high concrete and metal fence around parts of the old upper city where the meeting was being held -- and a torchlight march from Laval University to the wall. But the calm would be shattered over the next two days.
Friday began again with a march of several thousand people from Laval to the wall. When I went to the protest against the WTO in Seattle two years ago as a journalist, I came back as a street medic, inspired by the medical team aiding the protesters. I trained as a first responder, and in Quebec was back in action equipped with vinegar, liquid antacid, mineral oil, gauze, and bandages, following the march in a small red rented "medical support vehicle."
When the march reached the wall on Avenue Rene Levesque, a number of protesters -- including black bloc anarchists and activists dressed in white coveralls and padding, a style made popular by the Ya Basta group in Italy -- begin to assault the offending structure, rocking it, pulling on it with ropes, and using their bodies to pry apart the sections of the wall. Once it was breached, some protesters entered the perimeter, but overall the crowd was caught by surprise at this relatively easy victory, and did not have a follow-up strategy. Quebec City was largely free of the "violence/nonviolence" debates that have characterized recent activism in the U.S. Two of the main organizing groups, CASA and CLAC, had explicitly anticapitalist politics that welcomed a "diversity of tactics." Although red, yellow, and green zones were established for people who wanted varying levels of safety and/or confrontation, by the end of the weekend these designations had become meaningless.
As soon as the wall was breached, police tear gassed the crowd indiscriminantly, targeting both militants and groups of peaceful demonstrators sitting down and flashing peace signs. While the black bloc captured the lion's share of media attention, the protest was very diverse. A pagan group simulated a flowing river and radical cheerleaders kept spirits high. A "medieval bloc" came equipped with a large wooden catapult to loft stuffed animals over the fence. Some of the protesters had gas masks, goggles, and bandanas, but many more were unprotected. No sooner did a fog of gas drive the crowd back, then it surged forward again in a back-and-forth that continued for hours. Protesters from the black bloc threw gas cannisters back from where they came, first cheered and later joined by others. Nature was on the protesters side, and the wind blew the noxious fumes back toward the police and the delegates behind the fence; according to several reports, delegates felt the effects of the gas and their meeting was delayed for over an hour. At one point, the police brought two water cannon trucks up to the rear of the crowd; the trucks were immediately surrounded and attacked and were forced to retreat; from that point on, the water cannons remained on the cops' side of the fence.
Although many people were injured in the fracas -- medics treated burnt hands and wounds from rubber bullets and falling gas cannisters, as well as stinging eyes and throats -- the crowd remained upbeat, aided by the residents of St. Jean Baptiste (a working class neighborhood divided by the wall) who brought out garden hoses so that people could rinse their eyes and showed their solidarity in other ways.
The battle of the streets continued into the early morning hours, as protesters were joined by local young people, many well-lubricated with beer. Rocks and bottles were tossed over the fence along with the returned tear gas cannisters. Eventually police were able to clear protesters out of the areas around the fence, and weary activists attempted to catch a few hours of sleep. Saturday was the most well-attended day of action, with unions from Canada and the U.S. marshalling large numbers. A major march departed from the People's Summit, a gathering of activists and NGOs who came together to discuss economic neoliberalism. An estimated 50,000 people took part in this march, which led to one of the biggest disappointments of the weekend. Instead of marching toward the wall, organizers decided to route the procession to a parking lot several kilometers away. Some union marchers later expressed bitter resentment of their "leaders" for this decision, but many others defied organizers and broke off to join the activists at the wall.
Police did not wait for activists to breach the fence on Saturday, but instead gassed and blasted with water cannons all who approached the barrier. I spend the day ferrying injured protesters from the front lines to the activist clinic. As I drove a young man in white overalls who had been shot in the knee by a plastic bullet, he yelled from the car what would become the signature chant of the weekend: "Sol, Sol, Sol, Solidarite!" -- a sentiment that needed no translation.
Beginning in the afternoon, thousands of protesters gathered on the Dufferin-Montmorency highway overpass and began to beat a rhythm on the guardrails with rocks, sticks, and their bodies, creating a din that could be heard for blocks. Under the overpass was l'Ilot Fleurie, a temporary autonomous zone where artists prepared props, volunteers served free vegetarian food, and a rave went on into the early hours of the morning. On Sunday morning, as most activists were leaving town, this liberated zone was bulldozed and many people here were arrested.
As Saturday afternoon progressed, the cops attempted to clear the areas of conflict near the wall using tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets, water cannons, and dogs, and as dusk fell they tried to push protesters out of the surrounding areas. Several medics and injured protesters were in an alley next to the clinic on Cote d'Abraham when police charged, driving the occupants out of the alley at gunpoint and stripping them of their protective gear. They were herded down a steep flight of steps that divides the upper and lower town and managed to take refuge in the CMAQ Independent Media Center, where they set up a makeshift clinic.
Inside the original clinic, the remaining medics locked the doors and turned off the lights in an attempt to protect the remaining patients. From inside the clinic, I watched a street battle unfold. A large group of protesters, including black bloc and local youth, built a street barricade, lit bonfires, and engaged in a skirmish with the police that lasted late into the night. Elsewhere in the lower town, a crowd made up largely of locals lit more bonfires, and a street party continued until the early morning hours.
After Seattle, Alexander Cockburn observed that, "Once in a generation you can catch the ruling class off guard. Then you spend twenty years paying for it." Indeed, the level of repression against activists increases with each major protest. The Summit of the Americas meeting prompted the most extensive peacetime security operation in Canadian history. Police reported using over 4,000 cannisters of tear gas and over 800 plastic and rubber bullets. One person underwent an emergency tracheotomy after being shot in the neck with a plastic bullet and may not regain use of his voice.
Over 400 protesters were arrested, many of whom reported being held for hours on buses, stripped in view of others, and denied food and water. Beginning on Sunday, a support vigil formed outside the Orsainville jail that lasted for several days. On Friday, Canadian activist Jaggi Singh was tackled on a street by a group of undercover cops and driven off in a white van; he was not released for 16 days. Five members of the anarchist group Germinal were arrested before the actions after police infiltrated their group; they were released on bail on May 28.
Overall, the Quebec City actions proved inspiring, and may prove to be a turning point for the nascent movement against corporate globalization. Aside from a couple of banks, mainstream media vehicles, and a Shell gas station, property damage was minimal. Although the various groups organizing actions -- CLAC, CASA, GOMM, OQP -- were not very well coordinated and had some serious political and tactical disagreements, the weekend showed how effective and flexible an anarchistic movement without official leaders can be. As has been the case at recent large U.S. protests, activists were mostly white, but gained the experience of learning to work across the language barrier. Although women were active in large numbers, much of the front-line activity had a "macho" tone and was done mostly by young men. The media widely characterized the protesters as "youth," but I saw activists of all ages. As for queers? Well, there were certainly many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people present, but there was not a visible, organized, queer presence, despite the fact that activism around AIDS drug pricing and patents -- a major FTAA-related issue -- has been spearheaded by queer activists in the U.S.
While activists did not prevent the Summit of the Americas meeting from occurring, there was certainly no business as usual in Quebec City in April.
Navy Bombs Vieques People Resist
Since the 1940s the amerikkkan navy and the marine corps have used and horrifically abused the island of Vieques (seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico) for bombing and amphibious training maneuvers. The colonizing forces that be (for now) own more than two thirds of Vieques. The civilian population (9,300) lives sandwiched in between large navy properties located on either side of the island.
Since the summer of 1999, over 1100 individuals have been arrested on the island for civil disobedience in their efforts to get the navy out. Most recently, 185 people were arrested, among them, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Reverend Al Sharpton, Mexican-American actor Edward James Olmos, Democratic U.S.Representative Luis Gutierrez from Illinois, and New York labor leader Dennis Rivera. The immediate goal of the protesters was to stop yet another weeklong bombing session on the island.
On April 27th, the first day of maneuvers, a score of protesters who had penetrated the bulls' eye area of the firing range stopped the shelling for several hours. The use of pepper spray, tear gas, and excessive force against demonstrators who attempted to enter the buffer zone sparked a crowd of 100 who attempted to tear down part of the fence separating civilian and military zones. Leaders of the Vieques movement -- which are committed to nonviolence -- averted a serious confrontation with heavily armed MP's and U.S. marshals.
The corporate controlled media unsurprisingly had little to say about the arrest process that followed. Picture this: When arrested, the Vieques protesters were thrown on the ground face down, and handcuffed with tight white plastic bands for up to 24 hours. Some were forced to kneel on sharp pebbles. They were then detained inside a square of bare cyclone fence, with no roof, under the sun all day and then all night under rain showers.
The next day, the detainees were transported on a slow barge to the Navy base on the east coast of Puerto Rico -- a three-hour trip under a hot sun, with no water, on choppy seas, the arrested remained handcuffed with no life preservers in sight. Many remained in detention for more than 24 hours pending a hearing, then were required to post bails of up to $10,000, to be paid in full, for "repeat offenders." Moreover, the arrested were not allowed to communicate with their attorneys or their families for over 24 hours. For even longer, the Navy refused to issue a list of the arrested or reveal where they were detained. Al Sharpton, NY State assemblyman Jose Rivera, NYC councilman A.Carillo, and Bronx representative Roberto Ramirez, after returning to NYC, were notified on Tuesday afternoon that their case would be heard in Puerto Rico the following morning at 9 am. The four rushed back to the Island only to be sentenced to 40-90 days through the means of a rushed and un-just excuse for a trial, where the activists were not permitted to use their own lawyers and the federal prosecutor is a North American who is working as a prosecutor as part of his naval reserve service. The four have been transferred to a New York prison, and at least Sharpton's arrest and conviction, and possibly the others, will be appealed to the next federal level, in Boston. Another interesting detail is that the area where they were arrested, just on the other side of the fence in Vieques, might not have been navy land, since the navy put the fence through some land that actually belongs to the Puerto Rican govt.
On May 1st as a result of the continued and relentless fight of the people and the many direct actions, a total of 8000 acres was turned back over. Just under half of the land went to the US department of interiors fish and wildlife service and just over half went to the municipality of Vieques. The lands however contain seventeen toxic dumps, of which thirteen are on the lands given back to Vieques. Those dumps possibly contain Agent Orange and other dangerous substances. For the past sixty years the lands have been used as weapons and munitions storage, as well as a wasteland of deposited contaminants from the war practices and experiments of the united states. The land has never been cleaned or decontaminated. In some of the dumps they detonated munitions that were collected from the firing area among which could be part of the 263 rounds of depleted uranium, a highly radioactive element that the navy admitted to firing in Vieques in February 1999.
At this time the navy will not allow any Viequenses near the site, not even for observations, they claim that this is for their safety. Officials like Dr. Juan Fernandez (special commissioner on Vieques) are concerned that the levels of decontamination to take place on the lands will "probably be the subject of a court case," because the navy thinks they can once again get away with poisoning people on their own lands and then back away without any consequences. Well they are wrong, the people of Vieques and many supporters globally demand this land returned in its original condition, prior to being stolen, and in totality demand nothing less then the complete removal of the navy, with complete decontamination of their entire island. The fearless fight for the liberation of Vieques continues and will not be still.
The Mocha Column
By Chaya and Deni with wags from Mocha
Highest Rating: 2 Paws and a Tail Up
"Big Eden" 1½ Paws Up
The postcard advertising it says this is "the most honored film in the history of Gay and Lesbian film festivals" so who are we to criticize? Well, were the Mocha Column, and criticize is what we get the big bucks for. Of course, well start with the positive. The Montana scenery was exquisite and the cinematography was good. The main characters were young-middle-aged to older-middle-aged which was refreshing for a gay movie. The intergenerational relationships were interesting, and the acting was good we really liked Louise Fletcher. Chaya (a cook) loved the transition of Pike (Eric Shweig) from non-cook to gourmet cook. And thats our segue to the main problem with the movie: its racism. Pike a Native American man who gets attracted to the lead character Henry is stereotypically enigmatic, non-verbal, and strange. He is used mainly to further the plot of the film and seems to be the only Native American around. At one point, Henrys NY woman friend refers to Pike as "the Indian," which was jarringly offensive to us but didnt phase Henry or the (mostly white gay male) audience.
According to the movie, life in Big Eden for gay men is pretty darn good, and acceptance by the townsfolk seems to be taken for granted (this may not be the small-town experience most gays have ). Even with this cocoon of comfort, Henry (Ayre Gross, formerly of Ellen) is unable to come out to his grandfather (who clearly knows anyway). Very annoying!
Mocha would like you to know that Pikes dog Frances (magnificently played by Queenie) had a major role and got to eat dinner in many scenes. Frances dinners got better and better as Pikes cooking improved. Mocha feels that she herself could have easily played this part.
AND SPEAKING OF RACISM AGAINST NATIVE AMERICANS
Did you know that Hansens Beverages is introducing a new line of lighter sodas based on traditional herbs, fruits and berries used by Native American tribes? Would you believe this new line of sodas is called Medicine Man and that Hansens contracted with four tribal chiefs who provided artwork, tribal seals and their signatures for the labels? We bet you would believe that many other tribes are outraged. "Its marketing at its worst," says Mike Miller, a Cherokee nation spokesperson. But Mark Hall, Hansen senior vice president, bemoans "The last thing we wanted to do was aggravate these people . . . You try to find yourself a niche and we thought this was one," Two paws and a tail down to you, Mark.
FOR MORE INFO ON CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION
Our sources tell us that www.commercialcloset.org is a website that categorizes gay ads as positive, negative, or neutral. The websites creator, Michael Wilke, says "As advertisers become more aware of the strength of the gay and lesbian market and as our culture as a whole becomes more accepting of gay and lesbian people, mainstream advertisers are feeling much more comfortable using gay and lesbian themes." Quick, somebody send this guy a "Its a movement, not a market" t-shirt.
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
Youth on Fire for Environmental Justice
On May 17, youth gathered at Herons Head Park, a restored wetland area in the Bayview at Pier 98, across from a pg&e power plant. The land is owned by the Port of SF, which "leaves a big opportunity for park maintenance and management to be shared with students and community members" according to the Literacy for Environmental Justice Newsletter (744 Innes Ave, SF 94124). A number of schools have been involved in educational stewardship programs at the park. At the Youth on Fire event, about 300 youth heard raps, songs, and speeches presented by youth - about the importance of wetland areas and the environmental threats posed by pollution, pg&e, and the toxic navy residues in the Bayview/Hunters Point area.
There were also tours of the park with informational student stations, giant puppets, and free Youth on Fire water bottles (a big plus for my 1st and 2nd graders). It was an opportunity for my class to present information theyd been learning about birds, and to thrillingly observe two great egrets fly overhead and land nearby. Most of the students came for the day program; after that there was a march to call attention to the environmental crisis in the Bayview/Hunters Point Area. The Youth on Fire event occurred the same day that news of the radioactive contamination in the Hunters Point shipyards began to surface publicly. [The shocking news of this contamination isnt getting enough local coverage. Check out the Bay View newspaper website (www.sfbayview.com) news and columns for more in depth info on the radioactive "cleanup" and what to do about it. There was a community meeting June 9 so therell probably be actions coming out of that.] With a growing understanding and analysis of environmental injustice issues, Youth on Fire will continue in the struggle for justice in their back yards, school yards, and ship yards.
I have a confession to make. Back in February, I stepped into the Lesbian/Gay Entertainment and Business Fair at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. I know that seems like an odd place for me to be, but rest assured: I had a good, activist reason. I had made some cool posters lampooning and challenging the whole idea of Queer Trade Shows to post outside the night before, but as tends to happen in SF in winter, it poured, so we werent able to do it. But I also had some stickers and thought the glass doors and smooth metal walls of the Auditorium looked like great places to stick them. Shortly after sauntering in, covertly surveying the area for likely places to post my art, I was waylaid by a salesman for the San Francisco Chronicle, who persuaded me to prepay for a years subscription to our esteemed local rag.
Its been an interesting few months since then. I like having something to peruse with my morning coffee, and I love having the crossword puzzle to do on BART. Ive also learned some rather interesting stuff along the way.
Speaking of Coffee. One of LAGAIs favorite subjects, fair trade coffee, made a surprise appearance in the Chron last month, with a pretty good piece on how the plunging prices paid to coffee growers are boosting the profits of megacorporations while impoverishing millions in Latin America, Asia and Africa. I learned, among other things, that Vietnam has become the second largest producer of coffee (producing low-quality "robusta" beans used in instant coffee, as opposed to the "arabica" beans we are accustomed to) after Brazil (which I didnt realize was such a big producer either. Seizing on this info, I made some stickers bearing this Chronicle quote, "Coffee farmers around the world may be feeling the pinch, but there are boom times elsewhere in the business. U.S. corporations are making windfall profits on coffee Starbucks, for example, reported a 38 percent rise in profits this year, caused in part by decreased raw-materials cost and increased prices for its coffee drinks." which have been posted at Starbucks and other cafes around the Bay Area.
See How They Spin. Its not like I was unaware that the "objective" media arent. I know my Chomsky, and Ive been misquoted . But its been eye-opening for me to see on a daily basis how the "facts" are twisted to make the message. For example, I keep reading that Palestinian militias "opened fire" on israeli soldiers, provoking the atrocity of the day in retaliation. But in each of these instances, no soldiers were killed and maybe one or two were injured. Now how is that possible? Either were supposed to believe the Palestinians are the worst marksmen in the universe, or the israelis are wearing sandbags on their chests, or the phrase "opened fire" doesnt mean what I think it does.
And then, there have been at least three articles since March carrying the same message in almost exactly the same language about the attempt to implement Proposition 36, passed in California last fall (remember), which mandates treatment rather than prison for many drug "offenders." The articles report that the new law "alarmed many in the criminal justice field who worry that Californias already strained substance abuse programs could be overwhelmed by thousands of new cases annually." (May 20, 2001) Besides the fact that if the situation were reversed, and the mandate was for harsher prison sentences, everyone would be rushing to issue bonds and bid on construction contracts, why are criminal justice officials suddenly so concerned about strains on the treatment industry? And why are we hearing from them at all? Could it be because, as a May 14 editorial reminds us, "We [the Chron] opposed Prop. 36 as a simplistic answer to a drug epidemic that has defied police, the courts and medical intervention"?
The up side is that Contra Costa is making plans to double its treatment facilities, barbara boxer has introduced a bill to double federal treatment money, and a study released March 21 found that "the U.S. public increasingly perceives the war on drugs to be an abject failure."
Sense of the Census. One of the best things in the paper has been an ongoing series on the changing demographics of the country as revealed by the 2000 census. I learned that California is 46.7% white, 30% Latino, 11% Asian, 7% African American, 0.5% Native American and 4.7% identifying as mixed-race. The Latino population jumped 46% in 10 years, and is expected to make up 43% of the state in 2025. The Asian population also had a huge growth, but African Americans held steady, including in cities where they traditionally were the largest or one of the largest ethnic groups, like Los Angeles and Oakland. In Oakland, where the Black Panthers once nearly took over the city government, the combined Latino and Asian population now outnumbers African Americans.
The population of San Francisco grew 7%, with the largest increase among Asians. Not surprisingly, the citys African American population "waned," with almost 20,000 African Americans leaving the city. An article entitled "Up and Out," reported that African Americans are "leaving cities for suburbs": Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties showed declines in African American populations, while the other 4 counties showed increases of 17% to 36%. The article attributes this to more people being able to afford homes, which is probably true of some, but an article on San Francisco makes it clear that people are also being priced out of their traditional neighborhoods in the cities, especially in San Francisco where big gentrification projects have been completed in the Mission and Fillmore. There was an article about Concord, which is now 39% people of color including Iranians, Samoans and many people from various parts of Central America and has also seen an influx of Russian-speaking immigrants. Our beloved Vermont, youll be glad to know, is no longer the whitest state in the country but the third whitest, with just under 3% people of color (a 50% increase over 10 years ago).
And speaking of Vermont, did anyone else suspect that the hidden story of Jim Jeffords retreat from the republikkkan party is that hes becoming a Socialist like Vermont congressman Bernie Sanders, whos also officially an "independent"? Maybe its going to be the Socialist Republic of Vermont soon.
The More Things Change All this diversity is said to be increasing tolerance, but it sure didnt seem that way during the recent racist warmongering surrounding the collision of a u.s. spy plane with a Chinese military jet.
In San Francisco, Don Bleu, a popular radio disk jockey on 101.3 FM, called a restaurant in China to make fun of the person who answered for not speaking English.
While about 50 Chinese Americans were demonstrating outside the Chinese consulate to "show support for the U.S. government," two Springfield, Ill. talk-show hosts at station WQLZ were calling for the internment of all Chinese Americans.
Cartoonists around the country, including Pulitzer Prize winner Pat Oliphant, used racist images in cartoons depicting not only Chinese leaders but waiters and delivery people.
A comedy group called The Capitol Steps performed a skit at a gathering of newspaper editors which used the traditional racist ploy of swapping "r"s for "l"s in the speech of President Jiang Zemin. The editors laughed uproariously. When an Asian American journalist assigned to cover the conference wrote about her outrage at this portrayal, prominent editors refused to acknowledge their racism, saying that the skit was making fun of both Jiang and Bush equally.
In the Chronicle, numerous letters blamed Asian Americans for the racism against them, saying they shouldnt speak their own languages and shouldnt hang out with each other.
A few weeks later, a poll which was conducted before the spy plane incident was released by the Committee of 100, a Chinese leadership organization including architect I.M. Pei and cellist/conductor Yo Yo Ma. The poll found that:
25% of respondents harbor very negative attitudes and stereotypes toward Chinese Americans.
23% of respondents felt uncomfortable supporting an Asian American presidential candidate, compared to 15% for an African American, 14% for a woman and 11% for a Jew.
24% disapprove of intermarriage with an Asian American, second only to African Americans, while 7% wouldn't want to work for an Asian American chief executive officer, compared to 4% who would not want to work for an African American, 3% for a woman and 4% for a Jew.
The survey also concluded that 32% of Americans feel that Chinese Americans likely would be more loyal to China than to the United States, while 17% said they would be upset if a substantial number of Asian Americans moved into their neighborhood.
Called on Its Racism. On May 31 the Chron reported a demonstration of about 200 people outside its own doors, protesting the racism of its coverage, especially of Mayor Willie Brown. Unfortunately the rally, organized by Rev. Amos Brown, had mainly a pro-Willie Brown message, but it did point out that "The Chronicle is not employing African Americans or other minorities at the top level where decisions are being made." Brown said the paper should meet more often with community leaders and listen to the needs of readers. Managing editor Phil Bronstein responded by meeting with Brown (Amos), which I guess is a start.
Racist, Sexist Anti-Gay (but I read it anyway). Not surprisingly, the meeting with Amos Brown, who has opposed needle exchange and lobbied for the appointment of the homophobic Rev. Lumpkin to the Human Rights Commission, didnt help the Chrons coverage of the recently reported "new epidemic" of HIV/AIDS among African American gay men.
A study released a few months ago by the Centers for Disease Control reported that 32% of gay and bisexual African American men between 23 and 29 are HIV+, with 15% becoming newly infected each year. AIDS is the leading cause of death for African Americans (male and female, gay and straight) between 25 and 44. The Chron articles portrayed this epidemic as the fault of the bad homophobic African American community, presumably so much worse than all those other tolerant communities. NOT. And, in a homophobic twist, they suggest that African American gay men are responsible for the spread of AIDS among all African Americans because, not wanting people to know theyre gay, they marry women and have sex with them, knowingly infecting them with HIV.
Of course it is true that having to deal with the double oppression of racism and homophobia makes it more difficult for African American queers to be out, to access services aimed at the queer community, and increases the low self-esteem that is widely credited with the spiking incidence of new HIV infections in young gay men in general. But the Chron series said almost nothing about the fact that nearly all prevention and education funds have gone to mostly white organizations, the absence of culturally appropriate grassroots outreach projects aimed at any communities of people of color (Deeg reminds us that in 1990, ACT UP Local Issues Committee worked with a coalition to restore to the multi-million dollar AIDS budget a mere $700,000 earmarked for non-mainstream community organizations). And the fact that needle exchange programs are still mostly illegal and unfunded has been pretty much ignored, as has the overarching issue of dwindling access to health care for low-income people.
In fact, the only real mention (which was just that) of this disparity was in a truly outrageous article last Sunday headlined "AIDS - How San Francisco misspent the money," complaining of all the "frivolous" AIDS programs in San Francisco such as "AIDS Health Project, which received $977,701 in federal grants in 2000, features HIV bowling nights, a daytime cruise of San Francisco Bay and interactive workshops that cover flirting and cruising . . . holding, kissing, licking, sucking, f-."
Hospital Workers Strike Back
Health Care workers at Sutter Facilities in the Bay Area are still fighting for better working conditions and patient care. The Sutter facilities include California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco and numerous others in Northern California. CPMC workers have had 3 strikes since their contract expired last year and the company is not offering the industry standard for wages & working conditions.
The workers, led by their shop stewards in SEIU locals 250 & 790(Bay Area), 715 (San Jose), 707 (Santa Rosa) and 1877 (Sacramento) took the battle to Sutter's door step. Hospital workers including Certified Nursing Assistants, cooks, housekeepers, and others took a spirited bus trip to Sacramento.
First Stop: Workers visited Sutter General Hospital (not to be confused with the soap opera of the same name). Sutter General is going to merge with Sutter Memorial (also in the state capital). It is just another example of the multibillion dollar Sutter "nonprofit" empire controlling Northern California's health care. Workers at this facility were given a chance to talk about understaffing and poor benefits. Union members distributed flyers about Sutter General and the evil folks from Inhuman Resources grabbed the flyers out of the hands of people while they were trying to read them. Talk about control issues.
Next Stop: the rowdy and energetic union members went to the state capitol. Workers had a chance to speak with various members of the legislature (this is supposed to be a good thing). Workers spoke about Sutter's retrofitting money. By 2008 all California hospitals will need to be modified or completely rebuilt to meet new and better earthquake standards. The union pointed out that Sutter's poor staffing of hospitals which hurts both workers and patients should not be rewarded with government money. The union hopes this will prompt change in Sutter's behavior. I'm not holding my breath.
The Grand Finale: The heroes of our story went to the lair of their arch villain Van Johnson (the Chief Executive Opportunist of Sutter). "Security" Guards greeted the union folk (as they often do) and told the workers that Van the man wasn't there. The crowd started a picket line under his office (does anyone really believe he wasn't there?). Unionists from all over the Sacramento area came out for this picket line. Of course, he didn't come out---err um come outside.
Local 250 is still trying to get bargaining dates for Sutter Eden, Sutter Lakeside, and Sutter Solano. Workers at CPMC rejected managements poor imitation of an offer with a vote of 98% NO. Rumor has it that Alta Bates is close to a contract but will not ratify until all the union workers at the affected hospitals have a contract. This act of solidarity will hopefully help speed up the process. As the saying goes, Together, We Will Win!
Maraya Massin-Levy, who organized this demonstration at the Mission police station on May 19, as part of a project for school, writes
To me the words "to protect and serve" have turned into a joke. Instead of running to a policeman when we need help we run from them. They are supposed to help us and sometimes do, but other times we are killed by those who are supposed to stop killings. We are robbed and framed by those who are supposed to are supposed to protect us from those who will try to rob and frame us. Lack of background checks, racism and excessive force dont only make problem officers; they also make problem departments, problem law enforcement and one of the many parts of our problem government. I wrote this all on the flier for the anti police brutality rally I organized. A few weeks before I never thought I would be organizing a demo, but after doing a 55 page report on the terrible reality of police brutality I thought it would be stupid and lazy of me not to. Many people who lost family members to police murders spoke and after hearing the many horrible stories I feel even more strongly about trying to do more to try to stop police brutality and I hope you do too.
Gay Pride, My Ass. Its
all about GAY SHAME..
A queer autonomous space.
Saturday, June 16th, 2pm-Sunset.
Where: Tire Beach @24th Street and the Bay, SF.
politics and play food a carnival bands a freakshow performances installations djs artmaking
dress to terrifying ragged excess
info and directions @(415) 820-1411
Saturday, June 23
Music and speakers, including Linda Evans and Sharon Smith
4:30 p.m., Dolores Park
7:30 p.m. march to Castro
Party in Castro: 9:00 p.m. til late
For info check out www.dykemark.org
Come to the East Gay Café
12-4pm 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month.
1137 32nd St. (corner of 32nd and Adeline) in Oakland.
Croatian Anarchist Library
Flooded-Need Books and Zines!
A small, anarchist library in Zagreb, Croatia needs help rebuilding its library ruined by a flood. They have a new space but need new materials. Operated by Autonomous Cultural Factory Attack, Z.A.P. (Zagrebacki anarhisticki pokret or Zagreb Anarchist Movement), and Anfema (Anarcha-Feminist Action). When sending stuff, please make sure that you say on package that its a gift. Otherwise they have to pay customs. Thanks for your help and solidarity
Marki Strpic, Rakusina 3, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia; email Markos@zamir.net
P.s You might try contacting Marko first. Were not sure where this stands.
RAX Radio Active Queers
" created to amplify the queer voice on the East Bay radio dial .Transmitting the beauty and rage of trannies, dykes, fags, genderfuckers, bis, tris and momos "
Check em out Saturday 9am-midnight and Monday 3pm-10pm in North Oakland and Berkeley at 87.9 fm on your radio dial.